This page compiles a lot of the tips, tricks, how-to's, and anything else I've learned throughout my 818C build. Most of this is not ground-breaking stuff, but the info isn't always easy to find when you need it. So if you're also an 818 builder looking for some tips maybe this page can help you out.
Table of contents
General Car Build Advice
Document as much as possible
Keep receipts- This isn't necessary for tiny things like hardware, but make sure you have receipts for all the >$100 expenditures on your build. This will be absolutely required if you plan to title/register/insure the vehicle in any way. Track-only builds can probably get away without doing this.
Take pictures!- Pictures are great not only for build documentation and showing friends, but also for record keeping and ways to remember what things look like or where they go. I try to take pictures of just about everything as I go along. You don't have to document everything like I have, but pictures will benefit yourself down the road in many instances.
Decide goals and set realistic expectations for the build- I think a lot of people that quit these builds mid-way through had unrealistic expectations of the car they were building. These kits are best thought of as projects than finished vehicles. If your goal for the build is only to have a car that does "X", then you are probably better served by something else. However, if your goal is to have the experience of building your own car, despite that it will not be perfect or the most efficient way to get a fun thing to drive then you can consider the kits a great option!
Save forum threads as PDF's- If you find think you will want to reference them in the future save the threads as PDF's. I can't name how many times I've seen something useful in a forum thread somewhere and then am not able to find it again later when I need it. I now try to save everything in PDF format which you can do on any computer by "Print as PDF". Forum pictures and stuff can also disappear from hosting changes and such so you want to make sure you don't lose all that helpful advice.
Subaru WRX Price Advice- If you're on a time constraint or a strict budget, don't go for a cheap donor. I paid $2300 for mine, but the costs of that is a full rebuild of the engine, wiring issues, a new turbo, etc. I think a decent price for a donor is around the $5000 area so you can get one that is mechanically sound.
Engine Rebuild- A mistake I made while buying all my rebuild parts was buying the bearings and pistons too early. Wait to buy any size-dependent items such as pistons and bearings until you confirm what the machining needs of the engine parts are.
Which model/year Subaru WRX should I get for a Factory Five 818?- Truly, as far as the 818 is concerned it does not matter what WRX model or year you get. Personally, I think the more important thing to consider is getting the best condition unmodified car you can find and don't really care if it's a sedan/wagon, a 2003, or a 2007. 2005-2007 did get an upgraded transmission, new engine, improved front lower control arms, and better brakes. However, in the context of the 818 most of this stuff has less of an effect on the build than getting a car in good condition.
Drill bits- Buy a billion cheap Harbor Freight 1/8 and 3/16 drill bits. You will use all of them. Also have one good set of the whole range of normal drill bits for the occasional other uses.
Undercoating for aluminum panels- 3M Rubberized undercoating or similar. Looks nice and should help with noise from rocks.
Suspension components- Use Corroseal rust reverse product after wire-wheeling. Then coat parts with bedliner (matches the rough rust texture below). I used this process for the very rusty spindles and trailing arms. For less rusty parts simply clean/prep and paint with black automotive gloss paint.
Get a Harbor Freight hydraulic press for wheel bearings. It pays for itself just using it this one time.
Pipe Trick for Axle CV- Google this for a video. It's WAY better than the FFR hammer/vice method. I got my front outer CVs off in one whack with the axle inside a pipe.
"Wayne's Cooling Mod" - This mod is to drill and tap an NPT fitting into the coolant outlet pipe on the top of the passenger side of the engine. This line is then run into the port on the expansion tank that used to be connected to the top of the radiator. This allows the highest point of the coolant system to self-bleed the air out as intended. I never ran the engine without it, but I can certainly say it doesn't hurt and most have said it made a big difference.
Link to a thread PDF including this is lower down on the page.
Vintage Air Mini Gen II- I installed this system using the write-up from forum user AZPete. His write up is saved lower on this page. Differences from what he did vs what I did is that my newer Mini unit does not use vacuum actuators but instead servos. I also used a vintage air H fitting to serve as the coolant bypass. If you go through my blog (I actually have a tag for A/C if you want to sort by that) or build page I have lots of pictures of what I did for the A/C system.
List of Parts I Used - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Uu-7--15MmB-cd6mAte-IGPEkn4wirOn
You will also need to add the H-fitting to this list
Fiberglass tools- I had no idea how to do any fiberglass work before doing this kit so here's a few basics supplies I've needed.
Dremel/rotary tool- There are many many kinds of these. Corded, battery, and air powered. You will want a selection of sanding bits, cutting wheels, metal carving bits, and maybe a grinding bit. This will be your friend for lots of the body panel fitment.
Air saber saw- This functions very similarly to a jig saw, but I found it much much easier to cut intricate shapes and corners with this. Honestly made cutting the fiberglass an piece of cake and it worked fine on my relatively small compressor. I paid like $40 on Amazon for an Astro one.
Sandpaper- Lots of wet/dry sandpaper ranging from 300 grit to 2500 grit
Factory Five gelcoat repair kit- Honestly FFR should just ship this with the kit, you will need it. Has a can of gelcoat and a can of gelpaste which are used to fill cracks, voids, gaps, and scratches. I believe it was about $70.
Undercoating fiberglass panels- I used 3M rubberized undercoating and a section of Walmart yoga mat to coat the underside of my front fenders. This was intended to help protect them from rock damage and also reduces road sound. I think the undercoating really helps make the fiberglass look finished and while I have not done it to all the panels I think it is a really good idea to do so if the appearance of your kit is worth the extra 10 pounds you may add to it by doing so.
Photo of undercoating + yoga mat: https://photos.app.goo.gl/UvDgHGgdbWgbnAcCA
Coupe Components- FFR did not do a very thorough job creating the manual for the coupe components. Things such as the top, rear hatch, power windows, generally only have half baked instructions and sometimes none at all.
Rear hatch strut supports - See the linked thread pdf below on this page.
Window cutouts- FFR just says to "cut the window slot" which helps...a lot. Forum user AZPete gives some good tips in the "Hard Top Install tips" PDF I saved below. I'd add that it's easiest to do the marking with the door on the car, and that you can also put on the inner door panel and use the aluminum window trim piece they provide to help you template it as well.
Power Door Locks- Especially for coupe builders, power door locks are a nice feature and they're an extremely low-hanging fruit to add to your 818. The power lock actuators will already be installed anyways! All you have to do is buy a generic keyless entry system on Amazon/Ebay (mine was $20) and you have to run two wires to each door lock actuator. That's it. Save a portion of the factory wiring for the door actuators because the plug is built into their housing so it's nice to reuse that.
How to create a Car Build Website
The reason why I created a build website over a very thorough and up-to-date build thread is that this platform allows me to present the information however I would like and be free from forum interface restrictions. Ever try adding photos to a forum site? It's almost always a pain! It also allows me to avoid the clutter of conversation within the documentation. I've had some experience with web building in the past but this setup should be simple enough for anyone to duplicate. Some people might like this setup, some might prefer others.
What I'm using:
Almost everything is Google owned because I like the integration. There are non-Google alternatives to all of it and you could easily mix/match with different services.
Google Domains Domain Hosting: $12/yr
This is how I get the 818coupe.com custom url.
This is optional. You get a sites.google.com/abcdefg domain for free if you want to pay absolutely nothing to have a website.
Google Photos: Free!
I already use this with my phone and it integrates well with Blogger and Google Sites.
Google Sites website builder: Free!
Google revamped this in 2017 and it is now a very easy to use website builder. Drag and drop, no coding. About the same level of difficulty as using PowerPoint. Not the most flexible or feature filled but great for a simple site like this. I use things like Blogger, Disqus, and Feedburner to help enhance the site. Best part about it over other free options is there is no such thing as a "paid" version so it's not constantly nagging me to upgrade or use premium features. What you see is what you get.
This is how I create all my "updates". Blogger helps me manage all the posts individually and I simply use a embedded webpage to bring it into this site. The blog is technically a separate site because of this.
Blog functionality such as subscriptions, searching, etc. are all benefits of this.
This is how I share a email subscription option for people. It gives people a recurring email subscription to my Blogger RSS feed that is updated every time I post. The interface is old and kinda clunky but it is simple for the subscriber and requires no maintenance from me once setup.
This gives me the commenting feature at the bottom of some of my pages. This is done through embedded HTML code that Google Sites supports. Super simple and easy to setup.
Useful Links and Files
These are ideas/how-to's from other builders that I thought were great and wanted to preserve in PDF format. Hopefully all of these are still accessible on the main forum for the 818, www.thefactoryfiveforum.com, but if not feel free to download them here.
Limited Slip Diff Installation (Hindsight) - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1zP_Xf0wtghZ4rf-Wf4av5Jkyzf5DwVCW/view?usp=sharing
Vintage Air A/C Install (AZPete) - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1fceibhbaGdDpK30vI-rQFExS1V1dJ9nW
818C Hatch Strut Install (mikeb75) - https://drive.google.com/open?id=16NtVxCxjdy9CqHgQ-ozkvz7QlAKdH0BQ
Coupe Roof Reinforcement (Blwalker105) - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1we420CcXrSBe2EHutbhD5gmZ4yw55qGW
Waterproofing the headlights (Blwalker105) - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1FrGbZolQsqi9tfovs3fviZDuPFgEeUce
VCP Door Mounting Tips (Wayne Presley) - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1VN1wiPT7AkVqFcdMseeAxdG8-rhQ-P2q
Hard Top Install Tips - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1N8Gb-zvn7TDKCVc2Zp-LL9eQyQrFAxl2
Wayne's Cooling Mod - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pk_jEuZb8n9nd3JQTIx19fl2abi6O_aw
Parts I've Made/Designed
Seat Brackets: https://grabcad.com/library/factory-five-818-seat-brackets-1
Yet to be made but planned eventually
Intercooler does not get enough air without some sort of ducting. I will design and create one using the roof vents.
Trunk, trunk mounts, heat shields
I plan to waterjet a trunk out of aluminum panels. I will then design a series of mounts and heat shields to hold it all up.
Passenger side mirror mount
The FFR passenger mirror mount really doesn't work on the coupe. The mirror is majorly blocked by the A-pillar because they made it the same size as the driver side mount. Mine will be slightly longer and swept back to fix this. Lookup the C8 Corvette asymmetrical mirrors for an example of this.
Air intake mount
FFR somehow never addresses that the factory air box does not fit with the wheel liners. They also don't give any mounting solution for an aftermarket air intake.